Indian origin man faces up to 15 years in prison for allegedly smashing statue outside Hindu temple
An Indian origin man has been arrested and charged with criminal mischief as a hate crime for allegedly smashing a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in front of a Hindu temple last month.
Sukhpal Singh, 27, of Little Neck Road, Queens, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted for allegedly destroying the statute in front of the Tulsi Mandir Temple around 3:00 am on Aug 16, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
Singh was arrested on Sep 17 and charged with one count of criminal mischief in the second degree as a hate crime, criminal mischief in the second degree and aggravated harassment in the first degree.
Read: Mahatma Gandhi statue outside Queens temple vandalized (August 19, 2022)
He was arraigned the next day on the charges before Queens Criminal Court Judge Odessa Kennedy, who ordered the defendant to return to court on Oct 17. Singh faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
“As alleged, the defendant, along with several unapprehended others, committed a disgraceful act of violence against a Mahatma Gandhi statue that has become a universal symbol of peace, unity and inclusivity,” Katz stated in a press release.
“Hate and bias-motivated attacks have no place in our communities and my office will hold such perpetrators accountable,” she said. “The defendant has been apprehended and is charged appropriately.”
According to the complaint, on Aug 16, at 9:00 am, a priest at the Tulsi Mandir Temple located at 103-26 111th Street observed a statue depicting Mahatma Gandhi was broken into multiple pieces along with the words “Kutta Dog” spray painted on the pieces.
Officers observed video surveillance from Aug16, which depicted five individuals pushing down the Mahatma Gandhi statue, striking it several times with a sledgehammer and spray painting the statue and running towards Liberty Avenue.
Some of them were then seen entering a Mercedes Benz C-Class vehicle bearing the license plate # KUG9664 and some other entering a black Toyota Camry.
After investigation by the New York police it was determined that the registered owner of the Mercedes Benz vehicle observed on video surveillance is defendant Singh, Katz said.
The case is being prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Hate Crimes Bureau.
The same statue was knocked over on Aug 3 too. Following the second incident, the Indian consulate in New York took up the matter with US authorities “seeking thorough investigation so that those responsible for such despicable action are held accountable.”